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Measure Advances to Require NJ Hospitals, Prisons to Recycle Food Waste

Tom Johnson | March 6, 2020 | NJ Spotlight |

But in a rare public dispute, Senate Democrats disagree over aspects of the bill

By a narrow vote, the Senate yesterday gave final legislative approval to a bill that would require large generators of food waste, such as hospitals, prisons, restaurants and supermarkets, to recycle their trash instead of sending it to landfills, or, in most cases, incinerators.

The bill (A-2371) was approved the same day as the Senate also passing, by 22-14, a much-debated measure (S-864) to prohibit single-use plastic bags and paper carry-out bags — like the food waste bill, long a top priority of environmental organizations in New Jersey. The plastics bill still needs to be approved by the Assembly, where its prospects are a bit murky.

Each of the issues have defied reaching a consensus among lawmakers. Both measures died in the lame-duck legislative session earlier this year despite gaining some traction in either the Assembly or Senate, only to falter because neither house could agree with the other’s version.

Nevertheless, the movement on both bills marked a victory for proponents given the opposition the proposals faced in previous sessions, not only from industry lobbyists, but from lawmakers themselves.

That surfaced yesterday in the Senate in a rare public dispute among fellow Democrats over the food waste bill with Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) proposing to amend the measure, arguing the legislation is not “practical.’’

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